A Neck Brace can immobilize your head and relieve neck pain while injured soft tissues in your neck are healing. Also known as neck supports or cervical collars, they are most frequently used to treat cases of whiplash sustained in car accidents. Whiplash is a common injury in motor vehicle accidents, especially ones in which your vehicle is hit from the rear.
In addition to relieving neck pain, your doctor may recommend the use of a neck brace after you have had spinal neck surgery. It will keep your neck bones properly aligned during the healing process.
Another reason you may be asked to wear a neck support is as a precaution while any spinal or neck injuries are assessed to determine their severity.
Patients with a pinched nerve sometimes ask whether a neck support can help to relieve this condition. The answer is a brace of the type known as a cervical collar can support your neck and limit further motion. This can help to relieve the pain caused by pinching of the nerve roots. Patients should be careful not to overuse these braces, however, as they can cause neck muscle wastage.
Types Of Neck Brace
In general, there are two types of cervical collar – soft and rigid.
A soft neck brace or cervical collar is usually constructed from thick foam rubber covered in cotton. They will only exercise mild restraint over the movement of the head or neck. Soft cervical collars are usually chosen by doctors for treatment of whiplash and possibly other soft tissue injuries of the neck. They may also be chosen for treatment of mild non specific neck pain.
A rigid cervical collar, on the other hand, is usually constructed from molded plastic and in most cases have a removable padded liner at the front and back of the neck. They usually attach to the molded plastic by means of Velcro.
Rigid braces will usually be used to restrict head and neck movement while you recover from serious injuries such as fractures. Your doctor may also recommend that you wear one following major surgery to the neck. It will help to stabilize the neck and head to improve the chances of a successful treatment outcome.
Risks Of Using A Neck Brace
If you are about to start wearing a neck brace, one factor to consider carefully is how long it should be worn. There is evidence that excessive use of such a brace (especially a rigid one) can result in atrophy (weakening) of the neck muscles.
If your injury is a severe one and your healthcare professional has recommended neck brace use, this effect may be unavoidable.However, for milder injuries, it may be advisable to ask your doctor for advice as to when further use of your brace may be counterproductive.
If you have suffered a traumatic injury, you should also be careful about usage of a neck brace. Research has indicated that this type of brace may lead to a number of risks such as obstructions to your breathing, increased pressure on your brain and higher blood pressure in your jugular artery.
If you are selecting a neck brace, we suggest that you choose a size that fits snugly. You should not be able to move your head while wearing the brace. In addition, you should not be able to slide your chin inside the collar or stick it out over it.
Facial Hair & Cosmetics
If you wear a beard or have long hair, the hair or beard should be worn outside the collar. You should also keep your skin dry and clean under the support. Avoid using powders and lotions as they may reduce the friction between the neck brace and your skin. This would make it difficult for the brace to do its job and keep your head stable.